Senator John Heinz History Center's food event draws vendors from throughout the region
The Senator John Heinz History Center will stir some new additions into Western Pennsylvania's melting pot of ethnic foods and flavors at its sixth annual Hometown-Homegrown event on Oct. 7.
Lauren Uhl, curator of food and fitness at the History Center, says the food expo presented in partnership with GoodTaste! Pittsburgh is unique because local staples like Isaly's, Soergel's and Wholey's will be serving up delicious dishes alongside up-and-coming 5 Generation Bakers, Yokels Fudge Co., Wigle Whiskey, Zeke's Coffee and more.
“It perfectly blends Pittsburgh's incredible food tradition with the excitement of the current culinary scene,” she says.
Visitors also can learn more about the 100-year history of locally headquartered food company StarKist as part of a new exhibition. The 1,500-square-foot exhibit showcases the history of the tuna industry with videos and some 50 objects, including a vintage Charlie the Tuna costume.
Several new exhibitors, including food purveyors in Westmoreland and Fayette counties, will be among more than 40 vendors at the History Center event in Pittsburgh's Strip District.
Republic Food Enterprise Center is the primary sponsor of the Hometown-Homegrown event this year. Located in Republic, Fayette County, the center produces and distributes sustainable food products across the region.
Bob Junk, director of marketing and sales, says his business came on board because the event's “farm to fork” approach and focus on local foods fits the company's mission of supporting local entrepreneurs and their homemade products and fresh produce.
Republic Food's chef and general manager Mark Swankler will present a food demo at noon in the History Center's Weisbrod kitchen classroom, where other presenters include Chris Fennimore of QED Cooks at 10:30 a.m. and chef Brooks Hart of the downtown Distrikt Hotel restaurant The Whale at 1:30 p.m.
Available for purchase from Republic Food will be locally produced pancake mixes and Somerset County maple syrup, pickled products, jams and jellies and farmers market items.
Additional demos in the Campbell Gallery will include chef Jeremy Reed, Art Institute of Pittsburgh, “Making Golden Gazpacho” at 11 a.m.; Sarah Needham, Leafhopper, “Entertaining with Found Objects,” at 12:30 p.m., and Alyssa Fine, Pittsburgh Honey, “The Buzz about Honey,” at 2 p.m.
Other new featured vendors
• Lamagna Cheese of Verona, which has been in business since 1928, providing samples of its Lamagna fresh mozzarella and Lamagna ravioli. David Lamagna, territory manager, says the Hometown-Homegrown event is a perfect way for his company to show support for the local community. “Lamagna's distribution has expanded along the East Coast over time, but we never forget our Pittsburgh roots,” he says.
• Natrona Bottling Co., which has produced classic glass-bottled soda pop for more than a century. Spokesman Vito Gerasole says the company's Red Ribbon brand beverages are made in small batches using cane sugar and other high- quality ingredients using a unique pinpoint carbonation process. Among the most popular flavors are Original Cherry Supreme, Almond Cream Soda, Pennsylvania Punch and Plantation Style Mint Julep.
• Blume Honey Water, of O'Hara, which will have its three flavors — vanilla citrus, wild blueberry and ginger zest — available for sampling. “It's important to support all hometown products and this event gives us an opportunity to expose our waters to more people in Pittsburgh,” says Michele Meloy Burchfield, company co-founder with Carla Frank.
• Local Yokels Fudge Co., handmade in 70 flavors in Glenshaw and sold at markets, events and fundraisers, according to spokeswoman Amy Clarke of Ligonier. Some of the most unique flavors include bananas Foster, Belgian chocolate and pina colada. Fudge will be available for sampling and purchase.
• Prantl's Bakery, with its flagship store in Shadyside and new presence coming soon to Greensburg. John Felice says its storefront at 612 Grove St. should be open before the holidays. Junior pastries and small versions of its popular burnt almond torte will be available at the food expo, says Felice of Hempfield.
• Allegheny City Farms, which will be sampling hot sauces, include its Original Pittsburgh Style Hot Sauce “Harvest Edition” and three new sauces in its Flavor Bomb series: Jalapeno Splash, Kung-Pao Rush and Aji Pineapple Pepper Sauce. Owner Tom Motta says they also offer three heat levels of pepper jam and a BBQ Pepper Rub infused with pecan-smoked pepper powder.
Hometown-Homegrown will include live music, a cookbook exchange and spirits sampling. Last year, an estimated 1,400 visitors attended.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.